TOWER OF OMENS (W/ TYGRA)
Since fairly early on in the world of action figures, toy makers have recognized the need for said figures to have somewhere they could hangout. Why not create some cool locales for those figures? Well, they did, and that’s where we got playsets. Playsets made their first big splash in the 1970s (with Mego making some of the coolest), and really hit their stride in the ‘80s. They continued into the ‘90s (so I had quite a number of them), but have more or less gone away in recent years, due to the rising costs of manufacturing. They haven’t totally disappeared, though, and today I’ll be looking at the Tower of Omens playset from the recent Thundercats re-launch.
THE PLAYSET ITSELF
The Tower of Omens was released as the largest item in Bandai’s Thundercats line from 2011. It’s based on the design of the Tower from the most recent cartoon, and is nominally meant to go with Bandai’s 3 ¾-inch line of figures, though it’s been scaled down a fair bit to make it more economically feasible. There are two main pieces to this set: the main tower and the gate. The tower is about 18 inches tall. It’s topped by a beacon sort of thing, which features the Thundercats logo on each side. The red of the beacon is translucent, but there’s apparently a light-up feature, but I didn’t put in any batteries to try it out. The top level of the tower pops open on either side, providing a flat surface for the figures to stand on (though not a whole lot), and the front panel of the tower can be removed and placed on either side to act as a slide, though the effect is middling at best. At the base of the tower, there are four pillars, which I think are supposed to act as extra support, but just end up falling off a lot. The interior of the tower has an elevator. There aren’t any fancy mechanisms here; you just move it by hand through use of the handle on the back. The gate stands a little less than half the height of the tower, but it’s about 16 inches wide. It appears to be a bit closer to proper scale, but is still a bit undersized. The actual doorway is a pretty solid piece, and features some excellent sculpting, especially on the cat head. The Thundercats line tried to work in a weird magnetic gimmick wherever possible; on this set, when you place the back of a figure up to the “nose” of the doorway, the doors pop open. It’s kind of a neat feature, but the doors have a tendency to get stuck open. The actual gate portion is made up of two fairly flimsy pieces attached to either side of the doorway. It looks okay from the front, but is hollow on the other side. Also, the gate falls apart a lot; were I planning to use this for any long stretch of time, I’d probably find some way of permanently affixing the gate to the doors. There’s not a whole lot of paint on this set; it’s predominately just molded in a dull brownish sort of color. However, there’s some pretty sweet metallic blue accent work, which adds some nice pop to the set. In addition to the two main pieces, the set includes a catapult, a three-wheeled vehicle, and a Tygra figure. The catapult is kinda boring, since there isn’t a spring-feature or anything. Also, the two boulders included are each only half a rock. The vehicle is sort of interesting, but rather goofy. The front has a missile launcher, and there’s another magnet gimmick, where the cat head on the back pops up when a figure is placed in the driver’s seat. The Tygra figure’s actually pretty cool. The figure’s 3 ¾ inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation. He’s a different sculpt from the normal Tygra; there’s less articulation and his outfit is totally different. He’s totally clear, which seems kinda random, but I think makes him pretty nifty.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
At the time that I bought this, I owned no other Thundercats figures and hadn’t seen a single episode of the 2011 series (I’d probably seen one or two episodes of the original show, but I don’t remember them all that well). So, why’d I get it? Well, last summer, I was at an Ollie’s with my brother and Tim and I found this set for $6. I figured “why not?” and got it. It’s not as thrilling as the playsets I grew up with, to be sure. I can definitely see why it ended up at close out prices. Still, for the price I paid, it feels like I got a decent enough deal.